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Head Coach Ricky Smither enters into his fourth year at the helm for the Northeast Mississippi Community College football program and has his team on the prowl this spring preparing for the 2011 season.
With spring training underway and players in full gear, Coach Smither and his staff have liked what they have seen up to this point after just one full week of practice.
“Our guys are working extremely hard on and off the field,” explained Smither. "We have been pushing these guys this week to get better and they haven’t let us down. The upperclassmen we’ve got out there have been setting the tone and making these younger guys work hard.”
Hard work is something Coach Smither knows all about after three years of building what’s now a solid program at Northeast.
In 2008, the Tigers were winless in Smither’s first tour, but in 2009 Northeast picked up two victories finishing 2-9 on the season. However, the third time was the charm for Smither in 2010 when he led his squad to a record of 5-4 and finished tied for the runner-up spot in the Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division.
Smither knows that in order for his team to continue to build on their recent success, his sophomore standouts have to tote the load and set the pace during the spring drills.
“We got some key players coming back this year that we are pushing to become the leaders we need for them to be during the 2011 season.
“One of those guys is our sophomore quarterback Bryan Steele, who continues to get better behind the center,” said Smither.
Steele led the Tigers to a 2-2 record after getting the starting nod in week six of the 2010 season. In his first start for Northeast, Steele led the Tigers to a 49-42 win over the 2009 defending State Champions of East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.
Other sophomores mentioned by Smither who are looking good so far for the offense this spring were wide-outs Jonathan Johnson and Donte Barksdale.
“These two guys have looked good this week and if they keep working hard they can only get better.”
Smither also complimented his two returning running backs, Jamarcus Goodloe and Michael Poole, who will look to replace tailback Jaquise Cook in the backfield this season along with offensive linemen Antonio Foster, Derryan Ryce, and Chanston Jeter.
“Defensively, Deion Belue has led the way for the Northeast secondary this week, along with Jonathan Bates, Devin Lindsey, and Jeremy Spikner, while Pat Moore is leading the defensive front through our spring drills.”
Overall, Northeast has approximately 26 returning players participating in spring drills and seniority should play a factor in the how successful the Tigers can be at the start of the 2011 season.